Will a knee brace help a torn meniscus?
Yes, it will. But it's essential that you make a well-informed choice.
If you found our website, you probably need some good news right now, so I thought I'd offer some right out of the gate.
Proof in studies
A 2018 study published in the Prosthetics and Orthotics International looked into the effects of using a knee brace while recovering from a meniscal strain or tear.
A quote from the results:
"Two different braces each showed a significant reduction in the posteromedial meniscal strain..."
A quote from the conclusion:
"Two unloader knee braces effectively reduced strain in the medial meniscus with an intact anterior cruciate ligament during dynamic activities."
The great and the not-so-great news
If you're recovering from a meniscus tear, this is great news.
It means that knee braces do help with meniscal strains and tears.
The not-so-great news is that the market of knee braces is confusing, and separating the wheat from the chaff can be difficult. That's where we come in - we did all the research, so you don't have to.
Let's dive right in.
Choosing a knee brace for a meniscus tear
Before we get to our top picks, let's take a moment to make sure you understand what you're looking at.
Level of support vs. grade of tear
Frankly, it's baffling how much conflicting information is out there. We've seen people recommending soft sleeves that offer little to no support.
A meniscus tear calls for a more serious approach.
Skip at least two levels of knee braces from the get-go - forget the sleeves and the wraparounds. Your knee needs more help than that.
With grade one and two tears, you might find relief in some of the low-profile models, but we'd advise you to forget about the aesthetics.
Go for something more robust that boasts some form of side stabilizers.
For grade three tear, we'd go with an unloader brace. You need to keep the pressure off the injured area, and that's what an unloader does. This is the type of brace that was used in the study we mentioned above.
Novel padding materials vs. old school
At the time of completing this guide, there was no regulation to govern materials used in knee braces.
That's one of the main reasons we called the market "confusing."
There are new materials finding their ways to the market, but we found that the best value for money (by far) here is neoprene and its composites (mixtures with other fabrics like cotton).
No one material ticks all the boxes
Polychloroprene or (as we know i) neoprene is a fascinating material with unique properties, both thermophysiological and mechanical. It's invaluable in the knee brace industry.
The one thing it lacks is breathability.
If you're going to wear the brace for hours on end, you need to give your skin room to breathe and wick moisture.
We already mentioned that the biggest mistake you can make here is not get enough support.
There's an inherent physiological effect that comes with wearing a brace. You trust your knees more. But, if the support isn't there, you can make things worse by exerting pressure on the injured area.
At the other extreme, the wrong design can limit your movement too much.
The knee braces we'll talk about in a minute get that balance right. They are crafted to decompress the knee, control movement (without hindering it too much), and support the patella, all while staying securely in place.
Features of a well-chosen brace
Customization that works
Most braces are adjustable, but not all braces pass the test of time. The straps that hold it in place can start to shift and move with prolonged use, especially if the wicking is not regulated.
A good brace will be easy to put on and will stay in place.
A knee weekend by a tear of either of the menisci is more prone to side-to-side instability. Depending on where the tear is, you might feel a tendency for the knee to move inwards (valgus) or outwards (varus).
That's why you need some rigidity and not just a simple sleeve or wrap.
As a result of a meniscus tear, you can start favoring one part of the knee joint, even if you're not aware of it. A good brace will correct that and redistribute the pressure within the knee and keep it off the injured meniscus.
Best knee brace for meniscus tear - our top 3 picks
To get the most of the information presented here, consult your doctor on which of these might be right for you.
New information & updates
We typically update this guide bi-monthly to make sure the information stays relevant. In the meantime, drop us a line in the comment section with any thoughts and questions.
As you can appreciate there are many things to consider when it comes to choosing the Best Knee Brace for Meniscus Tears.
Support is key. However, there are other aspects, such as comfort and usability that are as equally important for the right knee brace for you. Hopefully we have helped you make some sound decisions with your next knee brace via our buyers guide and Top 3 recommendations for the Best Knee Braces to help you recover from a meniscus tear.
If you have any questions please leave them in the comments section below and we'll get back to you with an answer.